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Bill that would allow dogs in some Utah canyons if it passes

FILE -(Getty Images)

Dogs haven’t been allowed in some key watershed canyons around Utah, but that could change as some legislation is making its way through Utah’s capitol.

HB 245 has passed the Utah House by a vote of 46-25, that would allow dogs in certain Salt Lake area watershed canyons only if they remained in the vehicle with a licensed driver at all times.  The bill is sponsored by Rep. Cheryl Acton, R-West Jordan.  It would allow dogs in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon, City Creek and Parleys Canyon north and east of Mountain Dell Reservoir and in Lambs Canyon, as long as dogs remain in the vehicle with a licensed driver.

The bill now awaits committee action..  Rep. Acton says the bill allowing dogs does not impair the watershed, but, she says, is about allowing people to go on Sunday drives with their canine companions.

But there are concerns that if the bill passes the full legislature, it would result in problems of health and safety, including dog feces that would contaminate critical watershed areas.

“We worked for years to try to convince hikers and people taking their dogs into the watershed to pick up after their dogs.  If you have ever been on trails they will even bag the waste and leave them on the trail or hang them from a branch of a tree like a gross Christmas ornament,” says Rep. Jeffrey Stenquist, R-Draper, during floor debate.

Acton says the prohibition of dogs is an example of government overreach that people do not want.  She also says the bill does not change fines that are put in place for violators, with a potential class B misdemeanor that can be levied for people who do not clean up after their pets.

The bill’s Senate sponsor is Daniel McCay.